Hey there, Frosty the Frownman, why so sad? Is it because Hanukkah’s over and you’re the not-so-proud owner of eight new electric razors? Or is it because the only package under the Christmas tree with your name on it looks suspiciously like a tie, and you can’t even wear a tie at your job, which is to see run as fast as you can towards dangerous roller machinery? (We didn’t say it was a good job, but in this economy…) Or is it because no one loves you and you didn’t get any holiday gifts? Whichever it is, don’t worry! We’ve got a list of the good stuff you’ll actually enjoy. Leave this browser window open so your loved ones get the hint when they use the computer. And full disclosure, absolutely none of the products below are endorsed.
Scents and Scentability
The disappointing gift: Cologne
Cologne? What are you, Pope Funkypits XIII? Smellin’ good’s the privilege of the first and second estates who didn’t work up a manly stink in the first place, not poor schlubs like us laboring in the fields. For us, smelling good is why soap and deodorant exist. And if you’re anything like us in our 20s, you probably don’t care what kind /of either — just grab a ten-pack of the cheapest stuff and lay waste to the acid-belching germs upon you. Anyway, as for cologne, if you wanted to reek of alcohol, there are much better methods, and if you wanted to reek of alcohol that’s half-gone to vinegar, you can still mix up a salad dressing cheaper than Fahrenheit by Dior.
The cure: Every Man Jack
Every Man Jack makes, no kidding, some of the best men’s grooming products on the planet, and they’re not ridiculously expensive. Can you get a drug store stick of deodorant for $3? Yes, and you can smell a bit sour by lunchtime, too. But these guys have a solid core line of soaps and scents (mint, citrus, cedarwood and tea tree) that last all day and don’t cost three arms and a leg — Honestly, where are you going to get a third arm? You can’t, and good luck trying to steal one after you lost both of yours. So really, it’s the only sensible choice. Leaving out all those weird-ass filler chemicals you get in generic and even most brand name deodorants, EMJ imparts to your outer parts just enough aroma to combat your natural bacteria farm , but not so much your odor gets all frou-frou. That’s important, because ladies want a fella to smell like a man, not that creepy section of the department store that burns the nostrils.
Evil Never Looked So Good
The disappointing gift: Boring department store-bought cufflinks
Hey–congrats on owning a pair of cufflinks exactly like the four other pairs you own, rotated among the one shirt you own with slots for them.
The cure: Seven Deadly Cufflinks
Every man has his vice. Why not wear yours on your sleeve? Good idea, Uncommon Goods, we will! And the product that will do it for us is Playboy cartoonist Mort Gerberg’s Seven Deadly Sins cufflinks. At $195 for the set, you can start the day right by selecting the evils you’ll be seeking that day, and wearing their images like cosmic attractors. But maybe you only want a couple? One sin to indulge, another to ward off? You got ’em at $36 each. Wear them as spirit totems. Winner, sinner, chicken dinner! (sorry, we’re wearing Pride and Gluttony at the moment.) You can also order Seven Deadly shot glasses or whiskey tumblers, and even get them personalized.
Jam It in There
The disappointing gift: A jams & jellies sampler
How do you get away with charging $7.00 for an apple? Cut it in half and boil it in sugar. Look, there’s nothing wrong with getting a few of these in a straw basket, but unless your friend made them, it’s not like it’s hard to find good jam. And who puts jam on their toast that often, anyway? What, butter isn’t good enough for you, traitor? Butter was there for you the entire time, and you–you just threw it all away for that cherry-flavored tart. Get out of our sight.
The cure: Skillet Bacon Jam
2012 was a fantastic year for bacon. Maybe too good–some people are getting bacon fatigue. Not us. Definitely not us. But we understand it. People are tired of bacon’s catch-all rep as a deliciousifier of most any food and punchline to any discussion of how to tweak a recipe. It’s funny how some people are terrified of harmless MSG while treating a hefty rasher of bacon like a condiment. So expect to see some bacon fatigue soon, at which point cheese will rise up to become the bacon of 2013. Meanwhile, we’ll still be here, quietly enjoying life in moderation with this bacon jam made by the fine folks in Seattle’s Skillet diner. Made with bacon, onions, spices, sugar, and balsamic vinegar, because THOSE ARE THE BEST THINGS IN THE WORLD.
What’s in the Box?
The disappointing gift: Socks
Socks. Just like…socks. “Hey, I didn’t know what to get you, so here are socks.” Unless the socks have lightning bolts or skulls on them, socks are a waste of a gift.
The cure: Bespoke Post’s joy boxes
You know how E.S.P. rounds up cool local deals and stuff for you to do each week, around a central theme? This is like that, but for rainy days. Each month Bespoke Post assembles a few different boxes based on a concept, and sends you a list of choices. Boom! Now you have yourself a weekend getaway go-bag, or a charcuterie kit. Women love charcuterie, am I right? Anyway, these boxes save you the labor of tracking down the good stuff, and are guaranteed never to contain Gwyneth Paltrow’s head.
What’s that? One of their boxes is entirely socks? Well that’s cool, because apart from the priceless joy of being able to say “Box o’ socks!” repeatedly when asked what you got for a gift, you’re receiving really, really nice socks you could never find in stores. They’re made of Italian combed wool, artisanal quality, and produced slower to ensure the durability and comfort match their good looks. See? Quality and scarcity make this a legit gift now.
I’ll Have a Brew Christmas
The disappointing gift: A DVD or Blu-Ray disc
Look, there are very, very few films worth watching more than once. And sure, The Godfather or Office Space are just as good the 1,000th viewing, but how many times in a year do you really want to sit down to them again? Never, you wait till they show up on TV and it’s an excuse to curl an arm around your lady and eat popcorn. The rest of the time, it’s cluttering up the house, wasting perfectly good polycarbonates for what you could stream on Netflix any time you wanted.
You want a better way to ride out a winter night? Brew a stash of beer together with the Beer & Wine Hobby’s Deluxe Beer Brewing Kit. For your lady, it will be part of an ancient tradition bringing yeasty life to mere water, while for you, it’s a way to make something out of nothing and get drunk without having to drive. And you’re doing something together–It only takes a couple of batches before you’re saving big moolah. Your basement is now your bar! If you’re too drunk to leave the house, you can justify watching that DVD together, and if it’s a bad movie: hey, at least you’re wrapped around a dame and pleasantly buzzed. Flawless victory!
You Can’t Cut the Mustard
Not without a chainsaw, at any rate. Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard requires no bad gift to counterweight its triple crunchy goodness. Hand-made with three kinds of mustard seed, it’s all-natural and contains no additives or preservatives. Just pure, tasty, vinegary, crunchy, ah-this-is-the-sandwich-I’ve-been-waiting-for goodness. This ain’t no hot doggin’ mustard. This sits between thick crusts of bread atop premium cold cuts, or gets roasted into armor for some lucky pork loin. Fun bonus fact: Did you know Canada grows more than 90% of the world’s mustard? Thanks, Canucks!